Gift-giving Tips

12.10.06  Mary Yamin-Garone, DeMystifying Alzheimer’s


Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.

Today I’ll be sharing some gift-giving tips for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Each year there’s always someone on my list for whom coming up with just the right gift is next to impossible. Caregivers or family members of someone with Alzheimer’s are probably just as frustrated. Will dad be able to use it? Will mom be aware of the gift and enjoy it?

Fortunately, there are lots of great gift ideas for Alzheimer’s sufferers that are pleasurable and useful for the recipient and the caregiver. If you have a caregiver or someone with Alzheimer’s on your list this holiday season, here are some suggestions to make your shopping easier.

The best gift ideas for someone with Alzheimer’s depends on what stage of the disease they’re in.

Most people in the early stages can still manage many of their activities of daily living (ADL) themselves. They may, however, need some help or support to stay organized. Many who have early Alzheimer’s may have trouble carrying out tasks that require multiple steps, like balancing a checkbook. Memory and thinking also may be affected. Individuals in this group often lose or misplace items and have difficulty remembering appointments and people’s names. Choose gifts that will enhance their independence and activity.

Here are some items to help your loved one remember things.

  • magnetic reminder refrigerator pads
  • Post-it notes
  • baskets or trays that can be labeled inside cupboards or drawers
  • a pocket-sized diary or notebook
  • erasable white boards for key rooms in the house
  • a memorable calendar featuring family photos and special family occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries

These items can help them with everyday tasks:

  • a memory phone that stores up to eight pictures with names and contact information
  • an automatic medication dispenser that can help your loved one remember to take their medicine
  • night lights that come on automatically when it gets dark
  • a clock with the date and time in large type
  • a fruit basket or frozen or pre-cooked meals that are healthy and easy to prepare

Items that will help to keep your loved one engaged include:

  • an outing to a movie, play or concert, sporting event, museum or possibly an organized holiday shopping trip with friends and family
  • favorite musical CDs or a CD of their favorite songs
  • VHS/DVD collection of their favorite movies
  • activities like scrapbooking or other craft projects
  • concert tickets

Those in the middle or moderate stage of the disease may experience breaks in memory and may require some assistance with ADLs, such as bathing, selecting their clothes and remembering to eat. They also may experience a change in sleeping habits, have difficulty recognizing friends and family members and fidget.

Since more assistance is required and your loved one’s attention span is shorter, select gifts that focus on organization and the familiar.

Stimulating their senses may bring back pleasant memories. Give gifts such as:

  • scented lotions
  • a fluffy bathrobe in their favorite color
  • a soft blanket or afghan to keep them warm

Get comfortable, easy to remove, easily washable clothes, including:

  • sweatsuits
  • knits
  • large banded socks
  • shoes with Velcro ties
  • wrinkle-free nightgowns, nightshirts and robes

Research shows that music has a positive impact on Alzheimer’s sufferers. It takes them back to the good old days. It also increases stimulation and provides an opportunity for them to interact with their family and friends. Buy their favorite CDs or make a CD full of musical favorites. You also can tape religious services and music from church services.

Copy photos of family members and friends, insert their names and put them in frames or a photo album created specifically for your loved one.

Enroll your loved one in MedicAlert + Safe Return, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

People in the late or end stages of Alzheimer’s often require complete assistance with their ADLs. Their ability to speak diminishes as does being able to recognize their spouse or caregivers. They may be largely unaware of recent events and life experiences.

Your loved one’s ability to deal with anything complicated is reduced so choose gifts like

  • memory books or boxes made up of old photos and mementos
  • lap robes, shawls and warm footwear for those with poor circulation
  • stuffed animals, dolls or pillows to bring a sense of comfort
  • hand and body lotion along with a massage

Here are some gift ideas if your loved one is living in a long-term care facility or a nursing home.

  • soap, lotions and other toiletries
  • tissues with decorative holders
  • box of miscellaneous greeting cards with pre-stamped envelopes
  • filled picture frames and photo albums
  • homemade treats (if allowed)
  • decorative hand towels
  • lap blankets
  • phone cards
  • homemade arts and crafts from their grandchildren
  • their favorite music on CD
  • large-print books and puzzles
  • housecoat and slippers
  • bed jacket, shawl or cardigan sweater
  • new shirts and pants
  • new blanket or afghan
  • paper and pens to write notes
  • stuffed animals
  • large dial watch or alarm clock
  • costume jewelry and hair accessories

Don’t forget the people who take care of your loved one. Here are some gift ideas for caregivers.

  • The gift of time. Cost-effective and truly meaningful gifts are self-made coupons for cleaning the house, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway and giving them some time off so they can do something for themselves.
  • Gift cards and certificates for restaurants, laundry/dry cleaning or lawn care services, computer/technology support, maid services and personal pampering services, such as massages and pedicures, would be welcome.
  • In addition to giving books on the caregiver’s “must read” list, there are a number of books on caregiving, including The 36-Hour Day; The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care; Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Guide and Sourcebook;” and Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.
  • Purchase a DVR/TiVo and one year  of service so they can record their favorite shows or sports programs.

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope this information was helpful.

Join me next time for more gift-giving tips for someone with Alzheimer’s.


About Lillian Cauldwell

Own and operate an Internet Talk Radio Network for 10 years, 2005 to Present Published Author of Non-Fiction Book, 1996, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide. Published Author of several fiction books, 2006 "Sacred Honor" and 20010 "The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure." Playwright of Theater of the Absurd and Black Comedies. Screenwriter, Black Comedies